Our Elder Board is beginning a short study tonight on what the Bible says about elders and their responsibilities in the church.
I’ve been struck, in preparing for our meeting, by how the Bible uses, over and over, the picture of a shepherd to portray pastor-elders. And the picture of the church (you and I) … is that of sheep !
Consider these qualities of real sheep and how they might be true of us too :
- Sheep are defenseless animals. They are utterly helpless in the face of wolves, bears, or thieves. In fact, there are instances of a flock of sheep being attacked by predators where, while some of the sheep are being cut to shreds, others continue to stand by passively, completely unaware of the carnage going on around them.
- Sheep are nearly incapable of feeding and watering themselves properly. Without a shepherd, sheep would quickly be without pasture and water.
- Sheep are born followers. They must have a human conductor. They cannot start out in the morning in search of food and come home at evening time, as some animals might be able to do. The greenest pasture may be only a few miles away, but the sheep left to themselves cannot find it.
- Sheep don’t take vacations from eating and drinking, nor do their predators vanish. Leading and managing a flock (whether it be your family, the church, or a ministry group within the church) requires ongoing, hard work.
Thank goodness for Jesus, the Good Shepherd !
Being reminded that we at Emmanuel are essentially a gathering of sheep (!) has given me a sense of urgency for our Day of Prayer this Friday, November 1, from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
If we are by nature defenseless, wandering, hungry sheep, how great is our need for God’s help and provision in what we hope to undertake for Him !
Would you heed the call to pray together as a congregation this Friday ? I envision this extended time of prayer happening in this way :
- Some of you will be able to come for an hour or a half-hour.
- Some of you will be able to join us over your lunch hour.
- Some of you will come after work or in the late-afternoon / early-evening time period.
- Some of you will be able to spend several hours, or even a half-day, with Pastor Jeff and me and others in prayer.
Each hour we will start by reading Scripture or other helpful material on prayer, share personal and church-related prayer requests, then pray as the Lord leads. If you would like to take advantage of the quiet at the church to pray alone … or with another person of your choosing, please do so ! Feel free to bring your children if you have children with you during the day. They may join us for prayer or do something quietly on their own.
I think many things may be accomplished at this Day of Prayer :
- We will experience a closeness to the Lord that many of us need.
- The day will serve to increase unity in the church, as we’ve been talking about in our Sundaymorning adult classes. (“Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace” – Eph 4:3, NLT.)
- We will experience a “Sabbath” rest which many of us need.
- We will start a new month (November) by giving to God a significant part of the first day of that month.
- Ministry will be enhanced ; lives may be healed, sins confessed, reconciliation furthered.
- The Holy Spirit, in response to the prayers of God’s people, will move in the lives of those we love, both near and far.
Please plan on joining us ! And, if you haven’t filled out a prayer request card at the church, please feel free to send me a prayer request by email. If you would like to keep that request anonymous, please indicate that. We would love to pray for you !
Benjamin Franklin, at the Constitutional Convention of 1787, suggested each meeting be opened with prayer and said, “God governs in the affairs of men. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without His notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without His aid ?” (How true of the Church, too.)
Our 201 Class for adults begins this Sunday at 9:00 !
“Discovering Spiritual Maturity 201” will take place on Sunday mornings during November at 9:00. It isnot necessary that you attended the 101 class in September for you to join us for the 201 class. The themes of “Discovering Spiritual Maturity 201” will include :
- Understanding Discipleship and Spiritual Habits
- How to Get a Grasp on the Bible and Study It
- The Habit of Daily Time with God
- The Habit of Prayer
- The Habit of Giving
- The Habit of Fellowship
- How to Start & Maintain Good Spiritual Habits
All of us need this … either for the first time, or as a refresher. Why not come to be challenged and refreshed as you gear up for 2014 ? Not only that, but the purpose of our entire series of classes this year is to unite the whole church in a vision and unified pattern of spiritual growth. Please receive this sincere and urgent invitation to join us as coming, not from me or from the Elder Board, but from the Lord of the Church. I look forward to seeing you this Sunday at 9:00 ! There will be childcare and children’s activities through age 11.
As I look back on the years we’ve enjoyed together at Emmanuel, I am truly amazed at all that has taken place. It seems that it was just yesterday there was only a flat, green field at the top of Boy Scout Road. Now, there is a beautiful church building with activity happening almost every day of the week. It seems just yesterday that we were meeting, a small but enthusiastic group of people, in various and sundry locations all over Hermann ! Now, we have better structure, more ministry happening in teams, a growing sense of what it looks like to reach young people and families in Hermann.
And yet, … it still seems that we are only just on the cusp of becoming all we could be ! Just because we have lots of people coming in the door for various activities at the church doesn’t necessarily mean we’ve understood, or attained, God’s calling for us. Getting people through the doors may be theeasiest part of our work. Leading people, young and old, to Christ through lives and words that model His love and grace, … then helping all people grow in Christ and become makers of new disciples, … is the ongoing hard work that lies ahead of us.
It will take the whole team to make that happen. Look at what happens to the Cardinals when Allen Craig misses … or Carlos Beltran. Look at what happens to the Mizzou Tigers with James Franklin out ! Imagine the American tennis team without the Williams sisters !
You are Emmanuel’s Allen Craig and Carlos Beltran and James Franklin and Venus and Serena Williams … only better !
Hope to see you Sunday !